Merry Xmas from Kassie and Rob! :p

By CATTLEPROD on 1:18 AM

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12 social media personality types to look out for | memeburn

By CATTLEPROD on 11:34 AM

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District 9 director’s strange new viral video | memeburn

By CATTLEPROD on 9:35 AM

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Danny MacAskill - "Way Back Home" - NEW street trials riding short film

By CATTLEPROD on 1:33 AM

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I'm sure you've seen Danny MacAskill's 1st YouTube hit video? If not then watch here... then watch the follow up. LOVE IT!



How should brands respond when being cyber-bullied? | memeburn

By CATTLEPROD on 1:32 PM

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How should brands respond when being cyber-bullied? | memeburn


My latest article on Memeburn. Check it out.

@MrDickens 'What are the essential ingredients of Old Spin'

By CATTLEPROD on 7:18 PM

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WAAAHAHAHA! Old Spin Guy responds to me my Twitter question.

A visit from the Spotted Eagle Owl

By CATTLEPROD on 1:13 AM

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Sitting watching TV and I hear an eerie sound. I immediately recognise the call of an owl. I mute the TV and there it is again "HU HOO HOOoooo". "THEY'RE BACK," I say in my excited birdwatching brain.

I leap out of bed and run upstairs to my balcony. I have heard them before... Spotted Eagle Owls! But I have never seen them. The call is so eerie and carries so much that I first go to my front balcony. I wonder if they're this side? Then I remember that last time they were perched in the two big blue gums on my property. The one tree is mere metres from my top storey balcony, which is practically at perfect owl-height.

I run downstairs to fetch my torch and bound back up to the braai deck (my back balcony). As soon as I open the sliding door the call booms in the night. They must be right here! My curious cat Clio is following me around (as usual... she's a right Daddy's girl that one) and when she hears the call her ears prick up. I can see a "WTF?" look on her face. It sounds like an animal, a bird perhaps, but it's at night and it's a pretty ghostly sound. She seems both excited and nervous. Normally when there's a bird around she starts shaking and making a "ma-ah-ah-ah-ah" stuttered quiet meow. She is lacking confidence this time and looks to me for support.

I am almost committing suicide by hanging dangerously over my balcony, craning my neck and straining my eyes, peering into the blue gum tree. I KNOW they are there. The male is definitely in this tree. "Hu hoo" he calls and is answered by his mate in the blue gum near the gate almost immediately. "Hu Hoo hooooo" she replies. Assuaging any of his fears that she may have drifted too far from his protection. They mate for life these majestic animals.

Then I see her! She flies straight into the blue gum opposite my balcony to join her mate. I don't hear her massive wings flapping though. As with most nocturnal and/or hunting birds, they have special "fimbrae" on the leading edge of their primary wing feathers which make them fly silently. This allows them - amongst other special adaptations - the element of surprise when hunting.

She flits to another branch and I can see her. Wow! It's very humbling to watch an owl and listen to their call. It's almost spiritual. Hence why the owl has, for millennia, been an animal that has haunted the mythology of humankind.

I managed to snap a picture with the camera, but you can only see her eyes:


Here's a better picture of these gorgeous animals:

And here's the call I was listening to:
Click HERE to play Spotted Eagle Owl call

If you've enjoyed my little midnight liaison with a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls (Bubo Africanus) then perhaps you'd like to read up a little more on these stunning creatures. Please CLICK HERE for the wiki link.

I really do urge everyone to get more acquainted with birds. If it wasn't for my knowledge and love of birds (and all animals) I would have ignorantly continued watching crappy TV while this magical visit happened right on my doorstep. All you need is a little knowledge and to open your eyes and ears to this wondrous life. So many of us are caught up in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind in this concrete jungle that we don't take time to really SEE, HEAR, TOUCH, SMELL and TASTE the world around us. 

Bird-watching is one way. Especially at this time of year. We have some amazing summer visitors. Some of you will have heard the Red-chested Cuckoo (commonly the Piet My Vrou) recently. Another beautiful bird! Good luck spotting one though. They are incredibly shy, due to the fact that cuckoos don't make nests. They "hijack" another species' nest and will boot out their egg and lay their own, leaving some poor schmuck to raise an ugly duckling. This is why they are very difficult to spot and rather skittish, because - and rightly so - they are mobbed by other birds who don't want to see their buns chucked out of the oven. 

See pic below of a poor adult Karoo Thrush feeding its "baby" - a Red-Chested Cuckoo baba that is twice its size already. Poor Thrush must be thinking that this is a baby only a mother could love. Not to mention how demanding a baby of that size must be in terms of food. Nature is amazing.

I also often hear and see the European Bee-Eater in Johannesburg. The distinctive "prrrrp, prrrp" call will have my head snapping back immediately to see the flock in the sky and it's only seconds before I identify the bird's characteristic wing shape and flight pattern.

I doubt you even knew that a bird as magnificently beautiful as this is often flying right above your head here in Johannesburg?
Distinctive wing shape
BEE-yootiful
So WAKE UP and be more observant. Go and buy yourself the SASOL Guide to Birds of Southern Africa, which is my chosen field guide... so go and buy a copy and get started, but you can also check it out online HERE.

If birds aren't your cup of Earl Grey then how about stars? Everyone loves star-gazing. Even if it just means learning a few of the basic constellations and spending an evening on a blanket outside trying to identify them. Orion, the Hunter, is particularly magnificent right now (November) as well as Taurus, the Bull. Two of the easiest to see and identify. Go on. Do it! Your life will be richer for the effort. I can promise you that.

DOWNLOAD THIS FANTASTIC FREE PROGRAM TO EXPLORE THE SKIES. It's easy, just fill in your location and take your laptop outside. :)

Check out what's happening in our skies this November. CLICK HERE.

Mind-blowing streetstyle skating by Kilian Martin

By CATTLEPROD on 4:20 PM

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As a Freeborder, snowboarder, sandboarder and ex-windsurfer, water skier and skateboarder, having dabbled in wakeboarding and surfing; I have an extreme affinity for all board sports. They are all very similar in mindset, skill and creativity. Boardriders, of all disciplines, are like a global brotherhood. It is for this reason that I was quite moved when watching this video. It always amazes me at the creativity and skill of boardriders. Someone is ALWAYS pushing the envelope and blowing our minds with innate skill, innovation, precision and talent. Kilian Martin is one of these prodigies.

As one Yootoobs commentator puts it: "That's what I call a mix of street, freestyle, and WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?"

This video is amazing, I'm sure you'll agree.

XMAS Gift Ideas: Shweshwe Poppis

By CATTLEPROD on 8:00 PM

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Shwe Shwe Poppis™ are living stories of hope from the land of South Africa.

These charming and imaginative fantasy figures are based on a series of original children’s drawings produced by the kids at the African Children’s Feeding Scheme’s Malnutrition and Rehabilitation Creche in Zola, Soweto. Lovingly hand-sewn by women from the community and inspired by stories from South African culture, these quirky, unique and sought-after creations are providing sustainable employment, educational opportunities and a sense of pride and purpose for many deserving men, women and kids from Soweto.



The true spirit of gift-giving

By CATTLEPROD on 3:39 PM

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OFFICE CHRISTMAS

It's silly season and many companies will be doing "Secret Santa" gift-giving in the workspace. As my gorgeous better-half points out; people will be blowing R50 on stupid little gifts. Instead of Secret Santa in your office this year PLEASE can you try and mobilise your office to rather take all of those R50 notes and donate to a charity. Of course, my chosen charity is Berea - Hillbrow HOME OF HOPE.

Everyone in the office can nominate a charity and you can put them in a hat and draw one, or perhaps your company already has a Corporate Social Investment charity.

Hell, why not go the whole hog and instead of an end-of-year party you all go and do charitable work for the day. Imagine tossing out all of that conspicuous consumerism and saving the money that would be spent on a lavish restaurant lunch, where everyone gets a bit too tipsy and does or says things they regret afterwards, and donating that money to charity while you all get together and do charitable work. Everyone wins! The company doesn't have to worry about any personal fallouts and runaway booze bills, you and your colleagues will experience great camaraderie and charitable spirit, along with team-building and bonding. Awards can still be given out, and the underprivileged will get a much-needed boost of festive spirit and cheer. Try out http://www.cheesekids.org.za - They will easily set up the whole thing for you, including transport.

If there are too many "Bah Humbugs!" about having to do charity work and no end-of-year pissup, take the team out for some well-deserved drinks or a lunch afterwards.

FAMILY CHRISTMAS

Our family usually has a massive big lunch together with everyone. Instead of ALL of us buying presents for EVERYONE, all the adults donate R50 (or more if you like) to a predetermined charity (Check out The Trust locally or JustGive.org internationally for an easy way to make donations as gifts). Kids still get presents, but it's really stupid to spend so much money on presents for everyone. Do you really need that latest bestseller, or a new pair of socks (actually, I do) but still, can't you just buy that for yourself? There are people out there that can't even read and have never owned socks. Who do you think needs your compassion and charity more? It's a no-brainer. 


If you're still not convinced, maybe read what the Dalai Lama has to say about true success and happiness:

I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the ultimate source of success in life.
It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act. There are two aspects to action. One is to overcome the distortions and afflictions of your own mind, that is, in terms of calming and eventually dispelling anger. This is action out of compassion. The other is more social, more public. When something needs to be done in the world to rectify the wrongs, if one is really concerned with benefitting others, one needs to be engaged, involved. - Dalai Lama

FREEBORD Best Submitted Videos 2010

By CATTLEPROD on 5:13 PM

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As some of you know, I'm a Freebord NUT! SNOWBOARD THE STREETS! :) So here are the BSV submissions for this year. I LOVE the winning video. Oh, but first, let me explain Freebording for the uninitiated.

FREEBORD RIDE EXPLAINED





BSV 2010 - 1ST "Virtual Invasion"

Virtual Invasion. from Manon Gicquel on Vimeo.

2ND -

Freebord BSV- Love and Skate from steven bianco on Vimeo.

3RD -

Directions. from Sam Trowbridge on Vimeo.

Fireworks should be banned on Guy Fawkes

By CATTLEPROD on 12:10 PM

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With the tradition of Guy Fawkes upon us, I thought it was time for a rant. I have a number of points.

Almost every tradition we know has been hijacked, twisted and corrupted in to some form of capitalist consumerist orgy. Many of them have been adopted for no particular reason at all. Recently we celebrated Halloween or All Hallow's Eve. Historically, it marked the beginning of kak cold weather for the Celts. The Christians hijacked it as All Saint's Eve and then the Yanks just went bos with Trick or Treating and carved pumpkins. WTF? So now we spend cash on costumes and decorations and get drunk, which doesn't really honour anything. Easter, supposed to be a Christian festival to mark the resurrection of Jesus. Now we go away on long weekend holidays and splurge wads of cash on chocolate bunnies. Christmas, once again, a Pagan Winter solstice festival, hijacked by Christians and now we spend wads of cash on presents and decorations, we stuff our faces and get drunk. Which brings me to Guy Fawkes.

I doubt 90% of the population in South Africa could even tell you who Guy Fawkes was or why he has a day named after him. The ignorance is further entrenched when these same people call it Guy Fox and probably spell it that way too. It's pronounced the same as 'forks'. Please read up here. Once again, it's linked to Christianity in that Fawkes (Catholic) wanted to blow up the King (Protestant). So very unlike religious types to resort to this violent sort of behaviour, isn't it?

It is an archaic festival, as they all are, but its relevance to South African society can only be drawn by a tenuous link to British colonialism. In effect, Guy Fawkes Eve is a thanksgiving celebration to say "Yay, the King didn't asplode!" Now if you, like me, couldn't give a rat's tonsil about the English Monarchy - any monarchy for that matter - then this celebration is really a load of codswallop.

However, if you, like me, are a pyromaniac then this celebration is a grand excuse for you to run around with matches terrorising all flammable stuff in the vicinity, wild-eyed and grinning, while shouting in your best caveman voice: "MAN MAKE FIRE!" As I said, I'm a pyromaniac, probably a pyrophiliac too. Fire gives me a woody. Okay, maybe not, but I couldn't resist that.

Contrary to some people's belief, setting off fireworks is not supposed to symbolise the gunpowder that Guy Fawkes was to use to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Unless, perhaps, you are a Fawkes sympathiser? Guy Fawkes night is also known as Bonfire Night. The people were so happy to have this conspiracy foiled and the King saved that they lit bonfires in celebration and even burnt effigies of Fawkes (Sometimes they burnt effigies of The Pope too - this being a Catholic plot after all. I somehow think that many Catholics will be setting off fireworks on Guy Fawkes with no knowledge of this fact). It was even declared a public holiday by the Thanskgiving Act of 1605.

Which brings me right up until today when the night is still celebrated, mostly by ignorant fools, by setting off fireworks.

Without mincing words, fireworks are animal cruelty. The loud percussive explosions combined with blinding light are so terrifying to animals that it literally drives them insane. Their hearing, being exponentially more sensitive than ours, makes these explosions overwhelmingly painful and petrifying. Read THIS to find out how inhumane and cruel fireworks are to animals. An excerpt:

Firework displays and celebrations bring confusion, anxiety and fear into the lives of animals, causing many to run away from their homes in an effort to escape the frightening detonations.
Fireworks are not animal-friendly. Invariably, when communities celebrate with fireworks, local shelters and other animal aid organizations are overwhelmed by the "fallout," which manifests in an increased number of stray animals and reports of injuries and trauma to animals.  Those animals who are reunited with their families must consider themselves fortunate.  Many injured or terrorized animals run away from their homes to escape the traumatizing detonations of fireworks.  Some are hit by cars and injured or killed, some are maimed for life, while others are never recovered alive.
Firework explosions can produce a blind panic in animals that can lead to serious injury, deep-rooted, debilitating fears, or even death.  This is, in part, because the events do not last long enough for animals to become accustomed to the explosions.  Moreover, the ears of most animals are considerably more sensitive than the human ear. Therefore, the explosion of a firework (which can emit sounds of up to 190 decibels, a full 110 to 115 decibels higher than the 75- to 80-decibel range, where damage to the human ear begins) not only is proportionately more disturbing to an animal, it can also affect an animal's acute sense of hearing.  And animals who are too close to firework explosions often suffer significant burns and eye damage. Fireworks generate a noise level higher than the noise from gunshots (140 decibels) and low-level flying jets (100 decibels). Irreversible ear damage, such as tinnitus and loss of hearing in humans starts at the 80-decibel range.
There are no "safe" places to hold fireworks displays either. Residential areas have hundreds and thousands of pets. Rural areas have pets, wildlife and horses. Then there's the birds:
If live fireworks come into contact with birds they can cause severe burns and injuries to a bird’s plumage, limbs, eyes and skin. The chemicals used in fireworks, including combustible powders and toxic inks, can also cause gastrointestinal distress if they are ingested, even in small quantities. The loud concussions made by fireworks can damage birds’ sensitive hearing or may cause enough emotional and psychological stress to drive birds away from nests and babies.
So please, join me in supporting the ban on ALL fireworks. They are not necessary. They are but trivial entertainments. Humans go "Ooooh, aaaah, look at the pretty lights with the loud boom!" while thousands of animals are driven to panic, pain, trauma and injury, sometimes death.

If you really want to celebrate Guy Fawkes then why not make a big bonfire? It's bang on tradition, if that's your thing, but more importantly REAL MEN make fires. Building, making and tending to a fire is about as manly as it gets. Flicking a Bic on a fuse is for pussies.

SKATEISTAN - To live and skate in Kabul

By CATTLEPROD on 2:13 PM

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SOURCE: Skateistan.org

The full version of the nine-minute documentary Skateistan: To Live and Skate in Kabul is now available to watch online. Sponsored by Diesel New Voices and Directed by Orlando Von Einsiedel, the beautifully shot documentary was filmed in January 2010 and follows two Skateistan students, Murza and Fazila, through the streets of Kabul.
After winning two awards at the L.A. Skate Film Festival in September, legendary director Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and the Z-Boys and Riding Giants) wrote to Von Einsiedel saying "the film really knocked me out, it brought tears to my eyes and made me realize why I've ridden a skateboard all of my life."
The film has been officially selected for a number of other festivals worldwide. For more information on which festivals it will be appearing at check out Grain Media's website. Also, expect to hear more soon about Skateistan's full-length documentary, Skateistan: The Movie, which will give a unique look at the story behind the creation of a skatepark in Afghanistan, and  premiere on the festival circuit in early 2011, to be released in cinemas later that year.

Sharlto Copley Nedbank Ad - Make things happen

By CATTLEPROD on 6:30 PM

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It's rare that a piece of copywriting has an affect on me, but this particular ad really speaks to me at the moment. It's a Nedbank ad that features actor and screenwriter Sharlto Copley, the breakthrough star from District 9 who went on to play "Mad Murdock" in the A-Team movie. The soliloquy is apparently "deliberations from Copley" on how we all fool ourselves out of taking the action that will make things happen in our own lives. I wholeheartedly agree and hopefully - with enough balls - I will soon embark on the next evolution of my dreams.


I've transcribed the script here:
We've all done it. We decide we want something to happen and then... we wait. We wait for a sign, or for someone to tell us to "Go ahead and do it!" That we have permission. Or we hope that by sheer chance that very thing we want will create itself. That it'll tap dance in to our lives and say "Surprise!" Then, nothing happens. So we watch TV and make fancy plans, waiting 'til we have the money or enough time before that elusive 'lucky break'. Or sometimes we're waiting to feel a little braver. For our fears and doubts to disappear. But there'll always be something else to wait for; until we face the simple truth. That thing we want is on hold, because it's up to us. We're waiting for ourselves. Things don't just happen on their own.



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